According to the latest data published by ComReg, the number of broadband subscriptions in Ireland topped 372,000 at the end of June 2006, with penetration climbing to around 10% by end-August. The report highlighted a strong growth trend for broadband services, and a rising number of people using alternative access technologies for high speed internet access. ComReg said that broadband penetration reached 8.8% at end of June, and approximately 10% by the end of August. It also went on to say that 39% of all internet subscriptions are now delivered via broadband, up from 22% a year ago. eircom’s retail DSL lines accounted for 52% of all connections, down from 61% previously, due to the upsurge in popularity of wireless and cable alternatives. In addition, the regulator pointed out that there were 4.4 million active 2G and 3G mobile phone users at the end of June, a cellular penetration rate of 103%. Commenting on the latest findings, the Chairperson of ComReg, Isolde Goggin said: ‘There has been relatively strong growth in broadband subscriptions over the last six months and broadband penetration has currently reached approximately 10%. It was very encouraging to see a surge in activity by many companies offering broadband over the last six months which has resulted in an increase in broadband take-up by businesses and consumers. The Quarterly Report also highlights current developments in relation to mobile TV which will be trialled shortly by a number of operators in Ireland.’
In a separate story, the internet lobby group IrelandOffline has called on the country’s Communications Minister Noel Dempsey to revoke eircom’s Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) licence, which it argues is being ‘drastically underused’. The group is asking Dempsey to intervene and redistribute the spectrum to other broadband providers which will make better use of the national resource. IrelandOffline argues that to date, eircom has used its FWA licence in only 80 locations and delivers broadband using the technology to just 250 customers, despite the fact that the spectrum could be used to offer broadband to the whole country. Citing evidence from a report published by Oireachtas, the lobby group has suggested that eircom may have been ‘sitting on this licence’.